Le’Veon Bell makes the KC Chiefs a better team

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 29: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the New York Jets carries the ball during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on December 29, 2019 in Orchard Park, New York. New York defeats Buffalo 13-6. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 29: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the New York Jets carries the ball during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on December 29, 2019 in Orchard Park, New York. New York defeats Buffalo 13-6. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

There are questions about fit for Le’Veon Bell but the Chiefs are a better team for the signing.

When the music stopped, the Kansas City Chiefs were the ones in the chair. Le’Veon Bell made up his mind on Thursday evening when news leaked that the former New York Jets running back had selected the Chiefs over other rumored finalists like the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills.

For Bell, it was largely about winning a championship, something that has eluded him so far in his NFL career. Bell entered the league with a perennial contender with the Pittsburgh Steelers—the team had even won the Super Bowl only two seasons prior to his arrival—but he was never able to play in the NFL’s biggest game before he left for the, let’s say, less-successful confines of the New York Jets.

While we know what the Chiefs provide for Bell, questions have been raised about what Bell brings to the Chiefs. Those concerns are understandable given that the Chiefs also just invested heavily in the position with a first-round pick—which itself was questioned by some—in Clyde Edwards-Helaire. There’s also the dramatic exits that have happened in each of Bell’s last two (and only) NFL homes.

Let’s clarify the latter point first before moving on. There’s no time for Bell to do anything but contribute toward a championship. This is a one-year deal with incentives that Bell will be motivated to meet. Andy Reid is a wonderful players coach, and the Chiefs are a happy family in the locker room, filled with leaders who keep the team focused on what’s most important. Personalities are allowed to shine, yet individuals actively speak of the importance of team. It’s the ideal balance.

Help carrying the load

When it comes to the former questions, Bell is only going to serve as an asset, not a distraction, in the team’s backfield. The plan all along was for Damien Williams and Clyde Edwards-Helaire to originally split carries and the Chiefs were straightforward about that after drafting the rookie out of LSU. When Williams opted out, it accelerated Edwards-Helaire’s learning curve—for better or for worse.

Now Edwards-Helaire can share the offensive load with someone also loaded with talent. He can be inserted into clearly successful situations without having to be forced into less comfortable ones in others (we’ll get into those below). It’s a true tandem that can keep both players fresh for the long haul of the NFL season.

Security for the stretch run

No offense to Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson and DeAndre Washington, but the drop was rather precipitous from Edwards-Helaire to RB2 and beyond. At least, it was before Bell signed with the team.

Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. Every week brings a new injury (or more) that hurts a contender’s chances to succeed. For the Chiefs, the backfield was tenuous if something were to ever happen to Edwards-Helaire. While that would still be tragic to lose him for any length of time, the Chiefs now have further security at the position even in case of emergency.

A well-rounded back

Let’s be honest about Edwards-Helaire’s readiness for the wide array of things he’s tasked with doing at the professional level. While he’s an exciting runner and a dynamic pass catcher with several strong assets as a weapon in the open field, he’s also proven to be a below average pass blocker.

On third downs, this has absolutely hurt the Chiefs at key times. When the team leaves in Edwards-Helaire, Mahomes is not exactly helped by having the running back in the game. Without Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams is able to block well but teams also know exactly why he’s there. And in instances where the Chiefs ever try to use Williams in an offensive manner, well, it’s not the same as having Bell.

With the signing of Bell, the Chiefs have a well-rounded veteran who has proven capable of being an All-Pro lead back able to excel in all facets of the game. He’s a very good pass blocker yet he also has excellent hands out of the backfield. His talents force defensive coordinators to ask and try to answer the question, “How are the Chiefs going to employ Bell in this instance?”

If a team blitzes on third down, Bell is an excellent option to have in the backfield. Patrick Mahomes excels facing the blitz and Bell gives him a player who can run great routes with solid hands to make defenses pay. At the same time, he can also give Mahomes that extra split second as a blocker to help him find the open man uncovered elsewhere—which is what makes Mahomes so valuable.

Mismatch city

Imagine this: a team is trying to double Tyreek Hill and/or Travis Kelce. They’re taking their chances one-on-one with a streaking Mecole Hardman or the physical Sammy Watkins. Then Le’Veon Bell trots out on a long third down with a stable of defensive backs already tasked with covering the other options. It’s mismatch city.

Bell is going to love playing for the Chiefs for this very reason: he’s going to get a lot of one-on-one looks from defenses. Most of those one-on-one situations are likely to be with a linebacker who is too slow or a defensive back who is too slight. Either way, Bell is going to help the move the chains, especially so against the league’s better teams who are good at taking away other primary options for the Chiefs.

For a low-cost, short-term signing, there’s nothing to really complain about when it comes to the addition of Le’Veon Bell to the roster. The Chiefs are a better team for having him with a deeper backfield, more offensive security, a balanced load for a rookie who is still learning, and another mismatch for Andy Reid to utilize.

Best of luck to the rest of the NFL.

Next. The Bills defense is more bark than bite. dark